Saturday 21st November 2015 – Southern League Division One Central
Potters Bar Town 0 St Ives Town 1
Another excellent all round team performance and a wonder strike ten minutes from time by Scott Sinclair saw the Ives claim another invaluable three points on the road to retain top spot in the table.
This game looked like a tough one on paper as although the Scholars sat in eleventh place in the table they were only five points off the play off places and they had a formidable home record having only lost one League game at the Pakex Stadium this season with their scalps including Royston and Aylesbury.
As in many of their recent games the visitors started this game by taking the game straight to the home side and with the strong northerly wind at their backs they pinned the Scholars in their own half for the first five minutes. But the closest they came during this period came only two minutes in as Peter Clark darted down the right and delivered the ball into the feet of Scott Sinclair eight yards out. But the Potters Bar defenders reacted quickly and crowded him out before he could get a shot away.
The home side’s first sortie into Ives territory came on eight minutes and a rare mistake from keeper Tim Trebes almost presented them an opportunity as he failed to gather a low ball delivered into the box from the right by Joe Bennett. Fortunately the ever reliable Steve Gentle was on hand to make the first of many vital interceptions. His attempted clearance rebounded to Evandro Delgado. But a recovered Trebes was on hand to gather his clip into the crowded goalmouth.
Trebes was called into action again five minutes later as he did well to gather a free kick curled into the danger zone from the right by Luke Warner-Eley. The Scholars were enjoying a lot of possession during this period of the first half. But the Ives side were all working very hard to deny them space and time on the ball and they were struggling to create opportunities to test Trebes. The closest they came to a strike on goal came on 21 minutes when the skilful Delgado picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and tried to wriggle his way through a group of Ives defenders. He found sufficient space to curl an effort from 20 yards that went inches wide of the keeper’s left hand post.
Ives were still a threat going forward particularly from dead ball situations. They went close on 24 minutes as a long Jordan Jarrold free kick was spilled by home keeper Connor Sansom under pressure from Gentle. The ball fell to Sinclair, but before he could rifle it home the referee called back play for a foul on the keeper.
Nine minutes later Ives created the best chance of the first half and it was very much route one. A long punt from Trebes carried on the breeze and was misjudged by Connor Sullivan. Phil Draycott ran onto the loose ball, but it just would not come down soon enough for him and he could only steer his shot well wide from a good position.
As the half drew to a close the home side created a couple more half chances of their own, but again failed to bring Trebes into action on either occasion. On 41 minutes Warner-Eley and Ashley Nathaniel-George combined well down the left and it took an unfair challenge from Gentle to stop the latter breaking into the box. Bennett hit the free kick from 20 yards well over the top.
Three minutes later the classy Billy Adcock sprayed a perfect pass from the middle of the park out to Nathaniel-George on the left. He laid it into the path of Warner-Eley who fired in a powerful drive from the corner of the box that skimmed inches over the top.
The Ives came out fired up for the second half and on 51 minutes Draycott was brought down wide on the left as he looked to be getting clear of Wambeek. Unusually Draycott unusually delivered a poor free kick failing to get past the first man, but Bennett hit a poor clearance that fell to Sinclair on the edge of the box. He was quickly closed down and his crisp effort thudded the boards beside the goal.
The visitors suffered a blow on 54 minutes as the very hard working Luca Dusi succumbed to an injury he had picked up in the first half and had to be replaced by Jack Warwick. Warwick has had little pitch time this season, but he slotted perfectly into the midfield ball winner role and very quickly picked up the pace of the game.
The next chance fell to the home side on the hour as Nathaniel-George expertly brought down a long kick from keeper Sansom and looked to have played in Delgado, but Trebes was alert to the danger and bravely plunged in to knock the ball away from the striker’s toes, taking a clattering in the process.
Five minutes later Draycott who was giving Wambeek at torrid time on the left went past his man again and drove in a ball that was deflected out for a corner. Sinclair delivered the corner deep to the far post where it fell to the feet of Harry O’Malley eight yards out. His goal bound effort was blocked by Bennett by the post and scrambled clear.
Ives were enjoying a period where they were well on top and had a shout for a penalty turned down on 70 minutes as Jared Cunniff and Draycott combined to send the latter dancing into the box. The struggling Wambeek had been replaced by Ashley Harrison-Baker and it was the substitute who put in a clumsy challenge that sent Draycott tumbling. However the well placed referee deemed the contact insufficient to award a spot kick.
The visitors came agonisingly close to taking the lead on 78 minutes as Sinclair delivered an excellent in-swinging free kick from the left that beat everyone and arrived at the feet of O’Malley at the far post. He seemed certain to score, but his effort lacked power and hit the feet of keeper Sansom then proceeded to spin painfully slowly across goal and just crept the wrong side of the upright.
However the Ives did not had to wait much longer to go in front and it was a goal worthy of winning any game. Warwick won a tackle in midfield and the ball spun off to Jarrold who pumped it forward. It came off a defender and rolled to Sinclair fully 35 yards from goal. Danny Watson and Chae Simons both made runs to take away defenders and things opened up in front of the flowing winger. He strode forward a few paces and struck in a sweet shot that flew into the top corner of the net past the despairing dive of Sansom. The celebration showed what a team this side are as all of the players on the pitch, substitutes on the bench, and management team joined in a mass huddle by the touch line.
The Scholars only managed to create one good opportunity to grab an equaliser with five minutes to go as Delgado played Eoin Casey into the box and he slotted the ball past the advancing Trebes from twelve yards. But lady luck remained with the Ives as the ball struck the upright and rebounded to Jarrold who gleefully hacked it clear. There was just time for Trebes to make good catches to a couple of crosses and a free kick curled into the box before referee Darren Knox called time on another excellent Ives away day.
There were a number of contenders for man of the match on a day when the points were won by another excellent team performance. Votes came in for Phil Draycott, Charlie De’ath, Jared Cunniff and Jordan Jarrold. But the winner on the day was Steve Gentle for yet another awesome defensive display.
St Ives team : Trebes, O’Malley, Jarrold, De’ath, Gentle, Dusi (Warwick 54), Sinclair, Cunniff, Simons, Clark (Watson 68), Draycott (Moyes 86)
Unused subs : Davidson
Goals : Sinclair 80
Supporters Man of the Match : Steve Gentle
Final Score : Potters Bar Town 0 St Ives Town 1
Attendance : 175